By MIKE SMITH
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- The Miami RedHawks basketball machine found a few missing parts Wednesday, and the result was a 67-56 upset win over MAC-leader Bowling Green at the Stroh Center. With the loss, Bowling Green (17-7, 9-4 MAC), fell into a four-way tie for best Mid-American Conference record, joining Akron in the East, along with West leaders Toledo and Central Michigan.
And what were Miami’s missing parts?
- A stingy defense
- A strong finish, particularly on the road.
- Double-digit scoring by sophomore guard Jaryd Eustace.
The victory gave Miami, which knocked off rival Ohio (77-66) in Oxford Saturday, back-to-back conference wins for the first time this season. Bowling Green fell for the first time in its last five outings.
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Joining the sophomore in double figures were Geovonie McKnight (13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, 2 steals) and Eric Washington (11). Much of the RedHawks success, however, came on the defensive end – especially in the second half. BGSU shot just 32 percent (8-of-25) and was 0-for-11 from behind the arc in the second half.
After trailing 33-32 at the break, MU outscored the hosts 36-23 in the second stanza. Forward Richaun Holmes, who had 17 points in 17 minutes of first period action, was limited to four points after intermission. Moreover, he was the only Falcon to reach double figures, finishing with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. Three different players had seven for BGSU.
It was something of a role reversal for Miami, which was facing the MAC’s top defensive team (59.8 ppg). The RedHawks, by contrast, are ranked 11th (of 12), allowing an average of 70.2 ppg. They turned it up a notch, however, in a building where BGSU had lost just twice previously this season.
“I really liked where we were at (in the first half) when it was like 22-15 or something like that and all of a sudden I felt like we took a bad shot or two that just changed the game, it changed the complexion of the game,” Bowling Green head coach Chris Jans said. “At halftime when I was talking to our staff before we talked to the team, I felt like we missed a golden opportunity in that first half and those bad shots led to baskets for them, and obviously we had some poor turnovers as well."
He added, “"We only had 12 turnovers, but it seemed like every one of them was like just (an) arrow in the heart. They capitalized on them.”
The RedHawks also capitalized at the foul line, a place where they struggled earlier in the campaign but have moved up to sixth in the MAC. Miami made 20-of-21 against BGSU. The Falcons made 14-of-20 at the stripe.
Holmes was a key presence early for Bowling Green as he scored the Falcons first seven points. An 8-0 run midway through the first period put the hosts up by eight at 19-11 following a tough layup by Holmes at 7:23.
Miami came back with an 11-2 run, capped off with treys by Eustace and Sullivan to tie the game at 24-24. The Falcons managed to gain a narrow 33-31 edge heading into intermission.
Holmes looked like he might pick up where he left off in the first half with a jumper to start the final frame. Delvin Dickerson’s slam put BGSU out front 37-31 less than a minute into the period. A Clarke jumper at the 13:00 mark left BG in front, 43-39, but that was the last Falcon basket for over seven minutes. Miami, meanwhile, went on an 11-0 surge to grab a 50-43 lead following a McKnight layup at 10:54. Bowling Green got within five points three times, but could not close the deficit beyond that. Miami outscored BGSU 36-20 on points in the paint, 14-9 fast break points and 29-15 in bench points.
The RedHawks connected on 42.3 percent (22-of-52) from the field, while Bowling Green hit 36.0 percent (18-of-50). Neither team made a three-pointer after halftime (Miami 0-for-3, BGSU 0-for-11).
“We didn’t shoot particularly well, but we made plays when we had to,” Miami coach John Cooper said.
Miami at Akron (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Buffalo at Bowling Green (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET)